You are watching: How to deal with an atheist
David Robertson is minister the St. Peter’s totally free Church of Scotland in Dundee, director of the Solas Centre for Public Christianity, and author of magnificent Obsession: Why Jesus is Great, The Dawkins Letters, and Engaging through Atheists.
My next-door neighbors are no atheists. They room Muslims, brand-new Age pagans, agnostics, in the name Christians, and also one household of evangelical Christians.
Most human being in the united kingdom (where ns live) are not card-carrying atheists (20%), also less therefore in the United says (14%). However, many world are atheists by default, with “no religion” being the self-designation the 50% because that the UK and also 23% because that the US.
Many Bible-believing Christians watch this as a finish disaster. I have a slightly various perspective. In my experience, it is much harder to reach spiritual and nominally spiritual people 보다 it is to with atheists. And also I desire to encourage every Christian brothers and sisters not to view their atheist neighbors as risks to their faith, however as reachable human being who require the good news that Jesus Christ.
To help, i suggest four things to keep in mind when you engage with your atheist neighbors.
1. Treat them v dignity and also listen carefully.
How perform we love our atheist neighbors? In the same way that we need to love any other neighbors. We shot to get to recognize them. We treat them through respect together men and also women do in the picture of God. We offer hospitality and help. We seek to understand them.“In mine experience, it’s much harder to reach religious and nominally spiritual people than it is to with atheists.”
Our very first responsibility is to listen. We must listen come the culture — come what human being are speak — and seek to understand where they are coming from. Us can’t assume human being understand our language, and also we can’t suppose to recognize theirs. It’s similar to American missionaries who concerned Scotland thinking that due to the fact that we all speak English, we all will certainly naturally know each other. Castle soon uncover their mistake. The words could be the same, yet the definitions are frequently different.
2. Be ready to attend to their “defeater beliefs.”
Many different species of atheists exist. We cannot just put human being into one category and also rely on typical techniques and also answers.
I call the many extreme form of atheists NFAs: new Fundamentalist Atheists. They often tend to be upset young males whose motto is “There is no God, and also I hate him.” You space far an ext likely come come across them digital than you space over the garden fence. However their an easy beliefs room the ones the filter down v the media, entertain industry, and much that academia. What space these an easy beliefs?
We have no beliefs. We room just civilization who don’t think in a God — but if you noted enough evidence, us would.
You Christians room unbelievers in Thor, Zeus, and also all gods except one. We just go one God further.
We have science; girlfriend have confidence — and also faith, by definition, is blind.
People can be ethical without God. Therefore, human being have no require of God.
You might be tempted to think the you don’t require to have the ability to answer this assertions because no one was ever won come Christ merely by gift out-argued. But on the other hand, how countless atheists do you know have actually been winner to Christ by Christians just doing miscellaneous nice because that them? Or by just going to church? Or by just reading a Christian book?“When us witness to atheists (or anyone else), our first responsibility is to listen.”
No one can also see the kingdom the God unless they space born indigenous above. We require the divine Spirit to take it his word and also apply it come those whom he convicts that sin, righteousness, and also the judgement to come (John 16:8). Yet he offers means, and those method include his world — his civilization who love their neighbors.
And if us really love ours neighbors, we will certainly listen come them, care around how castle think, and also do our finest to aid remove your “defeater beliefs” — the ideas that protect against them from also considering Christ.
3. Recognize that atheists are believers.
Let’s just look at one of these “defeater beliefs”: Atheists have actually no beliefs.
An atheist is someone who believes there is no God. Furthermore, castle believe they have the ability to absolutely recognize whether or not proof is objective. In other words, many of them don’t acknowledge that lock too have faith — castle have confidence that lock don’t have actually faith! They have actually faith in the integrity of their rational powers and also in the belief that they need to only believe things they have the right to prove.
Atheism is based ~ above a series of beliefs, many of which space unverifiable. Because that example, every atheist I’ve ever before met believes in naturalism. It’s no that they have actually verifiable evidence that everything is material; lock believe that every little thing is material.
They likewise believe there is no (and can be no) proof for oh my god existence. A simple method to respond to this is asking what proof they would certainly actually accept.
4. Go after their hearts through their heads.
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I’ve it was observed Christians who have bought into the cultural narrative the Christianity needs a sort of remote faith, if atheism is the rational, strictly empirical, and frankly more intellectual position. This has tendency to command them into mistakenly thinking that the only means to “win” atheists is to it is in extra nice.“Our score is not to defeat atheists in a debate, yet to display them the glory and beauty that Christ.”
While us shouldn’t it is in arrogant or belligerent, it isn’t loving come concede rational superiority come atheism — due to the fact that it no true. The atheist place is intellectually vacuous. Atheism is not an pundit problem, but a love problem. Yet Jesus and also the apostles proved that the course to the heart typically passes through the head.
Our goal is not to loss atheists in a debate, yet to present them the glory and also beauty the Christ in the wishes that some may be saved. We argue v atheists not to win the argument, yet to have Christ victory them.